Constant Surprises:

Everyday Life Beyond Medical Interpreter Training

Going through a medical interpreter course can give you the skills you need to succeed, but they can’t always prepare you for the intense days you’re signing up for.  As staff at a hospital, you never know what kind of medical events you’ll be witnessing!  Especially if you’re on a particularly unpredictable ward, like the ER.  Here are just a few examples of circumstances you may experience after finishing Medical Interpreting Certificate training.


Scenario 1: Medical Interpreter Training Means Nothing if You Faint Easily

Imagine this: You’re brought in to interpret for a patient who has nearly cut some of their fingers at a warehouse job.  While the medical interpreter programs you went to may have helped you learn the correct words for ‘fingers,’ it’s also imperative that you bring a calm, cool demeanor.  A medical interpreter certificate means nothing if you faint at the sight of too much blood!  Keep perspective and help the patient understand what needs to be done to properly care for their wound.  If the dressing needs to be changed or the patient needs to continue care on their own at home, you must ensure they completely understand these instructions before leaving the hospital!


Scenario 2: Using Vocabulary from your Medical Interpreter Class to Talk about Uncomfortable Topics

Spanish Medical Interpreter Training

You’re brought in to interpret for a pregnant patient visiting their OBGYN.  And you’re a man.  Rely on your memories from medical interpreter class to give you the vocabulary you need to talk about things you’re not particularly familiar with.

To serve the patient well, you must walk a fine line between respecting her and participating in conversations that would normally seem confidential.  Don’t be shy in asking her whatever the doctors need.  The more ‘modesty’ you try to show, the worse things will be for the patient.  Stay honest, clear, and relaxed and the patient will, too.  They’ll also get the best care their doctor can provide.


Scenario 3: Medical Interpreter Training and Cultural Sensitivity

Medical Interpreter CertificationYou’re asked to interpret for a family that has a sick child—and not much experience with Western medicine.  Your medical interpreter certification comes in handy here not just in terms of vocabulary, but in practicing cultural sensitivity.

You must find a way to help the family understand the treatment and diagnoses as they fit into their framework of understanding.  Only then will the family participate to the fullest in helping treat their child—and increase the chances of them feeling better, faster!    


Get the necessary, in person training in order to become a competent professional interpreter. Register now for one of our interpreter training programs: Medical Interpreter Training, Legal Interpreter Training or Community & Business Interpreter Training.

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Yana Fisher

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